Angel Falls/Salto Angel

The boat puttered to a stop for the third time. We were in the middle of a river and as I looked at the dense mangrove growth, I knew I couldn’t survive an hour, let alone days, in nature.

This was my trip to Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world.

During the Thanksgiving holiday while others carved turkeys and ate themselves into a beautiful stupor, a co-worker and I decided to go to Canaima National Park. Canaima, I soon realized, was not for the faint of heart.

It all started out fairly simple enough: a few plane rides, an overnight stay in Puerto Ordaz, and an al fresco dining set up that let me know this trip would be something different.

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The next day I would be hiking behind Salto Sapo (Sapo Waterfall). I was so terrified to walk behind a thundering sheet of water that I almost had a panic attack. The “trail” was slippery rock with a rope railing that had fallen long ago. I gripped what was left of the rope so hard I managed to get splinters in both hands.  The brown, muddy water’s sheer power left little room for thoughts…just an overwhelming feeling of power.

Of nature.

Of my teeny-tiny humanity that could be swept out amongst rocks and water before my brain even registered I had lost my footing.

The view on the other side of the waterfall was spectacular, but I took no pictures. I feared the waterfall’s spray would damage my camera. Thus, I had left it behind. Seeing how I held on to the rope with both hands, it was a decision I did not regret.

I also took a six-seater plane ride over Angel Falls. I would like to say I enjoyed it. I did not. I got nauseous from the bumpy ride, which was to be expected in such a small plane. Thus, I was left thinking that this notion of seeing and doing it all is overrated. Nature is a beast I’d rather not mess with.

DSC04149The next day’s river trip to Angel Falls took four hours.  Bumping along with a refreshing (or annoying, depending on how you look at it) spray of water splattering one’s face, all one could do was meditate. After a while, conversation stopped when facing nature and the motorboat’s (un)steady hum.

Four hours in a catamaran with tiny cushions left my behind sore for days, but an hour and a half hike left me with this:

 

 

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Yes, Angel Falls is majestic, and awe-inspiring, and humbling.

It is nature in its rawest and most beautiful.

My last night in Canaima, various tour groups combined at a camp and slept in hammocks (again, overrated–especially when you’re in an open air area with a torrential downpour and toads that croak all night).

A part of me still can’t believe that I actually saw Angel Falls. It’s a blessing I’m grateful for. But one thing I learned for sure between hiking and rappelling and this Angel Falls trip, hiking and I are not friends!

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